Selsley and The Chartist Movement
The Chartists were a 19th century working class movement named after their aims which were set out in the Peoples Charter. Chartism gained popular support throughout England and Wales after the “Six Points” were included in a Petition to the House of Commons in early 1837.
The Chartist Movement was formerly launched in Birmingham in August 1838.
The six points of the Peoples Charter were
- A vote for every man over 21 years of age
- Secret ballot ( instead of the system for voting in public)
- MPs do not have to own property
- MPs will be paid
- Equal voting constituencies
- An election every year for Parliament.
Lord John Russell, MP for Stroud and also the Home Secretary at the time, was opposed to Chartism. The Chartists wanted him replaced by John Frost from Newport, one of the Chartist leaders, who was the prospective parliamentary candidate for Stroud.
They therefore arranged a public meeting to rally support for their cause and their parliamentary candidate. It was organised for Whit Tuesday 21 May 1839 (a bank holiday) on Selsley Hill.
Over 5000 people came to the rally, later referred to as the uprising, and despite fears of unrest and violence was peaceable.
John Frost was never elected as Stroud’s MP. On 3-4 November 1839 he was one of the Chartist leaders who led the Newport Rising. He and the other leaders were arrested and in February 1840 they were tried, found guilty of high treason and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. This was later commuted to transportation for life.
The Chartist Movement did not flourish after the early 1840s and it was many years until electoral improvements for working people were made.
Stroud Brewery has brewed a commemorative beer, Chartist Porter, described to be a good old fashioned porter. It may be brewed again in the future.
Day of Hope is a community based film production currently being made by and for the people of Stroud to celebrate the 1839 Chartist Uprising on Selsley Hill.